THINKING ABOUT RACE (February 2011). One goal of the Working Group on Racism is to deepen our understanding of what white antiracism means and how to go about it. A professor of philosophy at Gustavus College in Minnesota, Lisa Heldke, takes a close look at what a predominantly white (what she terms a “persistently white”) school or college might do to create a “truly antiracist place.” She takes inspiration from W.E.B. DuBois’ call for “an education [that] can actively contribute to the creation of a more just society.” From her article:
“… at the institutional level, there is no discussion of white racism running parallel to the discussion of the need for diversity and multiculturalism. …. [This] seems to suggest that ‘the problem’ for the historically Euroamerican college is simply and clearly a lack of diversity; the solution is for people of color to come there.
“Actually, racism does enter the diversity conversation, but sideways, indirectly. Sometimes, at College X, efforts to diversity seem motivated by a fear that focusing on anything else – say, on white students’ attitudes – will be, or be perceived as, racist. Of course, actively resisting efforts to diversify would constitute racism. But simply seeking to diversity the campus population … definitely does not take the next step, namely actively cultivating an antiracist climate.” To read her suggestions on how to cultivate that climate, see the full 14-page paper at: www.american-philosophy.org/archives/past_conference_programs/pc2004/submissions/dubois.htm.
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The Baltimore Yearly Meeting Working Group on Racism meets most months on the third Saturday from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm, usually at Bethesda Friends Meeting or Friends Meeting of Washington. If you would like to attend, either on a regular or a drop-in basis, please contact clerk Elizabeth DuVerlie at firstname.lastname@example.org.
NOTE: Friends who wish to comment on this or any other “Thinking About Race” items, may do so at this website: http://racismwg.bym-rsf.net. The BYM Web Manager has set this up as a kind of blog. You will first need to register by emailing email@example.com.